How has sports commentary evolved in video games?

Sports video games have come a long way since their humble 8-bit beginnings. The advancements have been in sports commentary. From text-based captions to fully voiced play-by-play analysis and colour commentary, video game sports broadcasting has evolved to closely mirror the real-life experience of watching a game on TV.

Early days – Text-based captions

In the early days of sports video games, commentary was somewhat rudimentary. Games like Pong and Tennis for Two in the 1950s and 60s had no commentary at all – they were simple, silent affairs focused purely on gameplay. When commentary was first introduced in later games, it was primarily through introductory onscreen ton screens like the 1979 Intellivision title NFL Football featured text-based captions describing the action using simple phrases like “First and 10” or “Touchdown!”

16-Bit era – Digitized speech

As video game technology advanced, so did the sports commentary. With the arrival of 16-bit gaming consoles like the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, game developers could incorporate digitized speech into their games. This meant gamers could hear honest spoken commentary in sports titles for the first time. The game was released in 1994 and featured honest voice commentary by a famed Seattle Mariners announcer. Hearing Niehaus’ familiar voice adding colour to the gameplay was a revelation for sports gamers. Even though the commentary was limited to short, pre-recorded phrases, it added a new level of immersion and realism to the experience.

32/64-Bit era – Expanded speech

As gaming moved into the 32-bit and 64-bit eras with consoles, sports commentary in games grew increasingly sophisticated. With CD-ROMs and larger cartridges allowing for more storage, commentary could now include longer, more diverse speech samples. At the same time, games started incorporating real-time, context-appropriate commentary that could respond to the specific actions happening onscreen. The Onscreen Madden NFL series was a pioneer in this regard. The game could detect specific plays and player actions, triggering dynamic lines of context-appropriate dialogue. Madden would even record new lines each year to comment on the real-life off-season developments like player trades and stats from the previous season.

Modern day – Pinnacle of realism

In the modern gaming era, with the advent of 4K and HDR capabilities, sports commentary has reached astonishing levels of realism and immersion. Advanced motion capture and facial scanning techniques allow in-game characters to look and move like their real-life counterparts. Broadcasters’ audio is cleanly recorded and seamlessly integrated to create a near-photorealistic TV-like presentation. In a testament to how far commentary has come, modern sports games are now doing fascinating experiments with their 해외스포츠중계 capabilities. MLB The Show 17 introduced “Retro Mode,” a throwback to old-school baseball games with pixelated graphics, more straightforward gameplay, and humorously repetitive “retro-style” commentary.

Most impressively, FIFA 22 used machine learning to create a revolutionary new commentary system. The play-by-play man was recorded speaking an extensive database of phonemes, and this audio was then fed into an AI algorithm that could stitch the phonemes together on the fly to generate wholly original lines of commentary in response to the action. It’s an exciting glimpse into the future of highly dynamic, responsive video game commentary.